The Coastal Players Tour was created five seasons ago as somewhat of a hobby for Myrtle Beach resident Buddy Wilkins. The no-frills and low-cost tour gave area professionals an affordable place to play.
While it’s still a side gig from his full-time job as an asset manager for 22 corporately-owned car dealerships headquartered in Indiana, Wilkins’ tour is expanding and adding some frills in 2016.
The tour has added a title sponsor in Srixon/Cleveland Golf that is providing some merchandise and equipment to the tour, has created a tour membership and points competition, and has added a new market that will give it a South Carolina Series and North Carolina Series.
The season begins with a two-day event April 16-17 at Arcadian Shores Golf Club.
“I’m going to continue with it and I’m more serious because of the growth,” said Wilkins, 50. “It’s still a hobby but I’ll continue to run it.”
The new tour market is the combined areas of Raleigh and Pinehurst, and events will be held on the Grand Strand and the Raleigh-Pinehurst areas on alternating weekends from mid-April through October.
Tournaments are generally two days, though there will be a few one-day events on weekends that include holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Daniel Davis, who has played the Coastal Players Tour for the past four years, will run the Raleigh-Pinehurst series. He is the owner of a pro shop at a practice facility in Raleigh and helped negotiate the agreement with Srixon.
Wilkins held an event at Southern Pines Golf Club in 2013 to test the waters for possible expansion and attracted about 40 players, but many of them traveled from the Strand.
“We tried the Pinehurst area but it wasn’t as big as the Raleigh area, and the Srixon rep is in the Raleigh area,” Wilkins said. “I see a lot of growth in the Raleigh area.”
With the addition of Srixon, Wilkins said tour members can get some equipment at cost, and the company is providing Z-Star balls to interested players for free, as well as other merchandise such as hats, bags, etc.
Wilkins said the agreement with Srixon is for one year and the company isn’t yet adding money to purses, though financial terms of the agreement haven’t been finalized and he believes it’s a possibility.
“We’re excited to have a name like Srixon,” Wilkins said. “Having a company like that, that is so involved in the golf industry, has a lot of endorsed players on the PGA Tour, and is corporately involved in the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Web.com Tour, I thought it would open more doors for the growth of the Coastal Players Tour and for some of the players trying to get to the next level.”
Wilkins has staged open events since the first tournament in August 2012, and has created a membership with a $50 fee for both pros and amateurs. Members receive a tour membership card that will offer negotiated discounts at restaurants and retail stores.
A points competition will culminate in a tour championship in October, and all membership fees will be added to that purse, which Wilkins believes will increase the payout by $9,000 or more. “I look for Srixon to be heavily involved in that [tour championship],” Wilkins said.
The Srixon Coastal Players Tour will have two-day tournament entry fees of approximately $240 for pros and $160 for amateurs, and four majors will have entry fees of $325 and $180. Non-member entry fees are $20 across the board.
Wilkins said the top 30 percent of finishers in pro and amateur division are paid, and 89 percent of entry fees go back into purses, after golf course expenses.
Wilkins said the tour averaged about 40 players per event last year, with a high of 68 and low of 31.
“I look for that to pretty much remain steady in the Myrtle Beach area,” he said. “In the first season in Raleigh, I don’t see why it can’t grow to 45 per event because it’s a larger area.”
The GPro Tour holds tournaments throughout North Carolina on weekdays and Wilkins expects to attract some of its members. “We’ve had quite a few of their players interested in playing our tour,” Wilkins said.
Visit www.CoastalPlayersTour.com for more information on the tour.
BMW involves military
Web.com Tour pros, U.S. military veterans, celebrities and junior golfers will team up for the second annual “Big Break: Warrior Edition” golf skills competition as part of the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in the Greenville areas.
The event will be held at The Reserve at Lake Keowee on Wednesday, May 18, the eve of the opening round of the $675,000 Web.com tournament.
Proceeds will benefit Upstate Warrior Solution, a nonprofit that connects veterans and their families to resources and opportunities, leads them through the process of self-empowerment, and encourages the community to embrace them and their families. The 2015 edition of Big Break: Warrior Edition raised more than $43,000 and featured celebrities Rob Riggle, Collective Soul’s Ed Roland and Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev.
Ten teams consisting of a Web.com Tour professional; a celebrity; a veteran, active military member or amateur; and a junior golfer will participate in a number of challenges as seen on Golf Channel’s long-running series “The Big Break.” Spectators are welcomed with no charge.
Senior Open qualifying
Daniel Island Club in Charleston has been selected as a site for U.S. Senior Open regional qualifying on June 27.
The U.S. Senior Open will be held Aug. 11-14 at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.
Sectional qualifying is 18 holes and is being held at 34 sites across the U.S. between June 14 and July 11. Player registration continues through June 8 at www.usga.org/champs/apply.
To be eligible, amateurs must have a Handicap Index of 3.4 or less, and both pros and amateurs must be at least 50 on Aug. 11.